Men and women of the Bible

 

 

Anglo-Israelism

 

 

 

Anglo-Israelism is a theory which affirms that the Anglo-Saxons are the descendants of the ‘lost’ ten tribes of Israel, that is, those tribes of Israel which were carried away captive to Assyria in the eighth century before Christ. The first person who seems to have held this theory was a man named Richard Brothers (1757-1824). In 1822 Brothers published his ‘Correct Account of the Invasion of England by the Saxons. Showing the English Nation to be Descendants of the Lost Ten Tribes.’ Anglo-Israelism is held by many people all over the world, among whom are the followers of Herbert W. Armstrong.

Now let me expound briefly this theory. After the death of king Solomon the kingdom of Israel was divided into two kingdoms: the northern Kingdom (formed by ten tribes of Israel) which was called ‘the house of Israel’ or ‘the kingdom of Israel’, and the southern Kingdom (formed by the tribes of Judah and Benjamin) which was called ‘the house of Judah’ or ‘the kingdom of Judah.’ In 721-718 before Christ God caused the house of Israel to be invaded and conquered by the kingdom of Assyria. These Israelites were removed from their farms and their cities and taken to Assyria on the southern shores of the Caspian Sea as slaves. The Israelites were all removed – completely (but the house of Judah - the Jews - was not invaded until 605 B.C.) Two or three generations after the captivity of Israel, however, the Chaldeans rose to world power. Under Nebuchadnezzar the Chaldeans (Babylon) invaded Judah (605-586 before Christ) and carried the Jews away to Babylon. None of the house of Israel dwelt in the land of Israel at the time of this captivity of Judah. The Assyrians - before 604 B.C. - left their land north of Babylon and migrated northwest - through the lands that are now Georgia, the Ukraine, Poland, and into the land that is called Germany today. Today the descendants of those Assyrians are known to us as the German people. The people of ten-tribed Israel also migrated northwest. Though the Assyrians had taken Israel into captivity, the Israelites did not remain as slaves of the Assyrians in Europe. They continued on a little further - into Western Europe (France, Belgium, Holland), the Scandinavian peninsula, and the British Isles – where they are to this day, except for the tribe of Manasseh, which much later migrated to North America and became the United States They came to be known as the "lost ten tribes’ for they had lost their national identifying sign, that is, the Sabbath-day, as well as the Hebrew language. They lost their national identity, while the Jews did not lose it for they kept the Sabbath in Babylon as well the Hebrew language. However, in their migration of the Mediterranean area across Europe to the British isles, the ‘lost’ tribes left behind them landmarks, bearing names of the tribes. Thus, the Danube River and Danzig are clear indications of the tribe of Dan! To support Anglo-Israelism its proponents affirm that there is a connection between some customs, traditions and beliefs of the British Isles and some customs, traditions and beliefs of the Israelites. There is even a connection between the Anglo-Saxon tongue and the Hebrew language, which would confirm the Hebrew origins of the Anglo-Saxons! Herbert W. Armstrong, in order to prove that the Anglo-Saxons are the descendants of the Israelites who were carried away captive to Assyria, said the following things: ‘The house of Israel is the covenant people. The Hebrew word for covenant is beriyth, or berith …. The Hebrew word for man is iysh, or ish. In the original Hebrew language, vowels were never given in the spellings, so omitting the vowel e from berith, but retaining the i in its Anglicized form to preserve the y sound, and you have the Anglicized Hebrew word for covenant, brith. The Hebrews, however, never pronounced their h’s. The Jew, even today, in pronouncing the name Shem will call it Sem. Incidentally, this ancient Hebrew trait is also a modern British trait, so the Hebrew word for covenant would be pronounced, in its Anglicized form as Brit. And the word for covenant man or covenant people would therefore be Brit-ish. So the true covenant people today are called the British. And they reside in the British Isles. To Abraham God said, ‘In Isaac shall thy seed be called,’ and this name is repeated in Romans 9:7, Hebrews 11:18. In Amos 7:16 they are called the ‘house of Israel.’. They are descended from Isaac, and therefore are Isaac’s sons. Drop the ‘i’ from Isaac, vowels are not used in Hebrew spelling, and we have the modern name, Saac’s sons, or, as we have spelled it in shorter manner, Saxons’ (The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy, pages 17, 18). As for the return of the remnant to Jerusalem 70 years after the Judah’s captivity, the Anglo-Israelites affirm that those who returned to Israel to rebuild the Temple and restore worship were all of the house of Judah – that is, all Jews - all of those whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away.

In the light of all this, the terms ‘Jews’ and ‘Israelites’ are not two names for the same nation. Herbert Armstrong has stated: ‘We want to impress here that Israel and Judah are not two names for the same nation. They were and still are, and shall be until the Second Coming of Christ, two separate nations. The house of Judah always mean Jew. This distinction is vital if we are to understand prophecy. Because most so-called Bible students are ignorant of this basic distinction; they are unable rightly to understand prophecy! The next place where the term ‘Jew’ is mentioned in the Bible, the house of Israel had been driven out in captivity, lost from view, and the term only applies to those of the House of Judah. There are no exceptions in the Bible’ (Where Are the Ten Lost Tribes? Herbert W. Armstrong, page 8). In other words, Jews are Israelites, just as Californians are Americans. But most Israelites are not Jews, just as most Americans are not Californians. The Jews are the house of Judah only, a part of the Israelites. But when these people are spoken of as nations, rather than as collective individuals, the term ‘Israel’ never refers to the Jews. ‘House of Israel’ never means ‘Jews.’

Furthermore, since the Jews are the descendants of the tribe of Judah they are still under the divine curse, while the Israelites – that is, Ephraim and Manasseh - have been greatly blessed by God for they have inherited the unbreakable promises to Abraham of national greatness, resources, wealth and power. Manasseh (the United States of America) has become the world’s greatest single nation, while Ephraim (Great Britain) a great commonwealth of nations!

 

Confutation

 

The Scripture says that the Assyrians carried the Israelites captive to Assyria twice. The first time it was Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria (747-727 before Christ) who carried them captive, as it is written: “In the days of Pekah king of Israel, Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria came and took Ijon, Abel Beth Maachah, Janoah, Kedesh, Hazor, Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali; and he carried them captive to Assyria” (2 Kings 15:29 – NKJV), while the second time it was Shalmaneser (727-722), the successor of Tiglath-Pileser, as it written: “Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against him; and Hosea became his vassal, and paid him tribute money ….. In the ninth year of Hosea, the king of Assyria took Samaria and carried Israel away to Assyria, and placed them in Halab and by the Habor, the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes” (2 Kings 17:3, 6 – NKJV – Actually it was his successor Sargon II – 722-705 - who carried the Israelites captive for Shalmaneser died while Samaria was being besieged by the Assyrian army). These passages of the Scriptures refer to the northern Kingdom (or the Kingdom of Israel), which was formed of ten tribes of Israel, and not to the southern Kingdom (or Kingdom of Judah), which was formed of the tribe of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin, for the people of the southern Kingdom were carried away captive to Babylon by the Babylonian army in 606, in 597 and in 586, in the days of king Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon (606-561).

However, when the Scripture says that the people of the northern Kingdom were carried away captive to Assyria it does not mean that all the Israelites were removed, so that there were no more Israelites in the Kingdom of Israel, for the Scripture teaches that the kings of Assyria left some Israelites (just as the king of Babylon left some people in the Kingdom of Judah, as it is written: “… the king of Babylon had made Gedaliah the son of Ahikam governor in the land, and had committed to him men, women, children, and the poorest of the land who had not been carried away captive to Babylon …. Likewise, when all the Jews who were in Moab, among the Ammonites, in Edom, and who were in all the countries, heard that the king of Babylon had left a remnant of Judah, and that he had set over them Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, then all the Jews returned out of all places where they had been driven, and came to the land of Judah ….” Jeremiah 40:7, 11-12 – NKJV). We deduce this from the following incident which happened in the Kingdom of Judah in the days of king Josiah (639-608), thus after the kings of Assyria had carried the Israelites captive to Assyria. It is written: “In the eighteenth year of his reign, when he had purged the land and the temple, he sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, Maaseiah the governor of the city, and Joah the son of Joahaz the recorder, to repair the house of the Lord his God. When they came to Hilkiah the high priest, they delivered the money that was brought into the house of God, which the Levites who kept the doors had gathered from the hand of Manasseh and Ephraim, from all the remnant of Israel, from all Judah and Benjamin, and which they had brought back to Jerusalem” (2 Chronicles 34:8-9 – NKJV). As you can see, the following words ‘from the hand of Manasseh and Ephraim, from all the remnant of Israel’ show that even after the kings of Assyria had carried the Israelites captive to Assyria there were some Israelites in the northern Kingdom, for if there had been no Israelites in the Kingdom of Israel the Scripture would not have stated that in 621 B.C. (that is, 100 years after the last Assyrian captivity) there was a remnant of Israel (you must bear in mind that it was in the sixth year of king Hezekiah – 721 B.C. - that Shalmaneser had carried away the Israelites captive).

In the light of what the Scripture says, therefore, the Anglo-Israelites are wrong when they affirm that all the Israelites were removed from the northern Kingdom, for a remnant of Israel was left in the Kingdom of Israel at the time of the second Assyrian captivity which took place in 721 before Christ. And as a result the Anglo-Israelism theory is wrong, for how could the Anglo-Saxons be the only true descendants of the Israelites who were carried away captive to Assyria if 100 years after the captivity, which had taken place in 721, there were still some Israelites in the northern Kingdom? Furthermore, it must be said that we can’t affirm that the so called lost ten tribes of Israel surged westward through Northern Europe and eventually became the British or some other European people for it is a well known fact that every time the Jews were carried away captive they kept their beliefs and customs in the countries where they had been carried. Thus it is absurd to think that the English people are the descendants of the Israelites carried captive to Assyria for they do not hold the Jewish beliefs nor do they follow the Jewish customs.

Let us see now if the Jews who returned from the Babylonian captivity must be called Jews, and not Israelites, for they belonged to the kingdom of Judah and not to the kingdom of Israel. In other words, let us see if after the Babylonian captivity returned only descendants of Judah and Benjamin to the land of Israel or also descendants of the other tribes of Israel who were in the kingdom of Babylon (which was the kingdom which arose after the Assyrian kingdom). According to the book of Ezra and the book of Nehemiah, those who returned to Israel after the Babylonian captivity can be called Jews and Israelites as well, and among the exiles who returned from Babylon to Israel there were also descendants of the ten tribes of Israel. In the book of Ezra it is written: “The priests, the Levites, the singers, the gatekeepers and the temple servants settled in their own towns, along with some of the other people, and the rest of the Israelites settled in their towns” (Ezra 2:70 – NIV), and again: “Some of the Israelites, including priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers and temple servants, also came up to Jerusalem in the seventh year of King Artaxerxes” (Ezra 7:7 – NIV). That among the exiles who returned from captivity there were also some descendants of the ten tribes of Israel and not only descendants of the tribe of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin is evident from the fact that when they arrived in Jerusalem “they sacrificed burnt offerings to the God of Israel: twelve bulls for all Israel, ninety-six rams, seventy-seven male lambs, and as a sin offering, twelve male goats” (Ezra 8:35 - NIV). – Bear in mind that Ezra 2:70 refers to the return which occurred in 536 before Christ, while Ezra 7:7 and Ezra 8:35 refer to the return of the exiles which occurred in the year 457. In the book of Nehemiah it is written: “The priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers and the temple servants, along with certain of the people and the rest of the Israelites, settled in their own towns” (Nehemiah 7:73 – NIV – This passage is very similar to Ezra 2:70). Therefore, the fact that in the book of Ezra and in the book of Nehemiah the term ‘Jews’ and the term ‘Israelites’ are used alternately (cf. Ezra 3:1; 4:12; Nehemiah 1:2; 2:10: 11:20) to indicate the remnant shows that after the Babylonian captivity the difference between the kingdom of Judah and the kingdom of Israel ceased, thus the Jews were called Israelites, and the Israelites were called Jews: the two terms became synonymous. However, it shows also that among the exiles who returned from Babylon there were some people who were descendants of those Israelites who had been carried captive to Assyria in the days of king Hezekiah. – I remember you, however, that not all the exiles returned from the Assyrian captivity and the Babylonian captivity; that’s why in the days of Jesus and of the apostles there were communities of Jews in the province of Asia, in Achaia, Egypt, Cyprus, Rome and in many other places around the Mediterranean sea. - The fact that after the Babylonian captivity the difference between the kingdom of Judah and the kingdom of Israel ceased (that difference began to exist in the days of king Rehoboam) was the fulfilment of the following words God spoke through the prophet Ezekiel: “Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these? Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand. And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes. And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all” (Ezekiel 37:16-22). So, after hundreds of years, the God who – after the death of king Solomon - had divided the kingdom of Israel in two kingdoms because of the rebellion of Solomon, made them one nation.

The Anglo-Israelites affirm that in the days of Jesus the Jews were the descendants of the Jews who had returned from the Babylonian captivity, which means – according to their way of thinking – that among them there were no descendants of the ten tribes of Israel. How is it then that Anna was “of the tribe of Asher” (Luke 2:36 – NIV), which was one of the tribes that were carried captive to Assyria? It is evident, therefore, that in the days of Jesus there were some descendants of the tribe of Asher in the land of Israel. We do not know if Anna descended from some Asherites who had returned from Assyria, or from some Asherites who had been left in Israel; one thing is sure, the fact that there was a descendant of the tribe of Asher shows that the words of the Anglo-Israelites are empty.

In the New Testament there are some other evidences that prove that in the days of Jesus there was no difference between the Jews and the Israelites, for both the term ‘Jews’ and the term ‘Israelites’ indicated the members of the Jewish nation, and not of two different nations. For instance, Paul, who was of the tribe of Benjamin, said to the Romans: “I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin” (Romans 11:1 – NKJV), and to the Corinthians: “Are they Israelites? So am I” (2 Corinthians 11:22 – NKJV), so Paul called himself an Israelite, yet at the same time he declared he was a Jew, for he said to the commander Claudius Lysias: “I am a Jew from Tarsus, in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city ….” (Acts 21:39 – NKJV). As you can see, Paul, who descended from the tribe of Benjamin, that is, one of the tribes of the southern kingdom (or kingdom of Judah), affirmed that he was an Israelite and a Jew as well. So he identified all the Jews as Israelites, and all the Israelites as Jews.

The apostle Peter also identified the Jews as Israelites, for on the day of Pentecost, when he preached to those Jews from every nation under heaven who were dwelling in Jerusalem and to the Jews who lived in Jerusalem, he called them “men of Israel” (Acts 2:22 – NIV), and at the end of his sermon he said to them: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36 – NKJV).

If in the days of Jesus the Jews were not Israelites, but a different nation, Jesus would have known it and would have told it somehow; but Jesus never stated such thing, rather He stated the contrary, that is to say, the Jews were Israelites. When He saw Nathanael coming toward Him. He said of him: “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” (John 1:47 – NKJV). Now we don’t know from which tribe of Israel Nathanael descended; however there is no doubt that if he was of one the tribes who had formed the kingdom of Israel that indicates that in those days in the holy land there were still some of those Israelites, while if he descended from Judah or Benjamin that indicates that to Jesus a Jew was an Israelite. Let me cite another evidence which shows that according to Jesus the Jews were Israelites. When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus He said to him: “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?” (John 3:10 – NKJV), and John says that Nicodemus was “a ruler of the Jews” (John 3:1 – NKJV). As you can see, the Jews were Israel.

I could cite many more passages of the Scriptures to show you that the Jews are Israelites, and the Israelites are Jews, but I think that the ones I have cited so far are sufficient.

Finally, as for the fact that the ten tribes of Israel are called ‘lost’, I want to say this: in the days of Jesus as well as in the days of the apostles, the ten tribes of Israel were known, for Paul said in the presence of king Agrippa: “And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain” (Acts 26:6-7 – NKJV), and James wrote to the saints who belonged to the twelve tribes of Israel: “James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad” (James 1:1 – NKJV).

 

 

 

 

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